On 7 June 2019, Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong announced Australia and Singapore are working to deepen cooperation on digital economy issues and have instructed their respective trade ministers to complete a scoping study of what might be possible by October 2019. Australia is committed to capitalising on the enormous potential and opportunities presented by digital trade for Australian businesses. According to the Export Council of Australia, Australia’s digital exports were worth around $6 billion in 2017, equivalent to Australia’s 4th largest export sector and this figure is set to grow.
Singapore is Australia’s largest trade and investment partner in South-East Asia. As two vibrant and open economies, we share an ambitious vision for improved economic integration between our countries. Australia and Singapore are leading the way in the digital economy and we are keen to work with Singapore to maximise ambition in areas of common interest.
This initiative will help unlock new opportunities to facilitate digital and cross-border trade. For example, great potential exists for the application of information and communication technologies to simplify and automate international trade procedures with the aim of streamlining import and export processes, helping Australian businesses reduce costs and remain competitive.
Through the scoping initiative we will identify suitable areas of cooperation with Singapore. These might include e-invoicing, the digitisation of some trade documentation and the electronic certification of export certificates. We are also exploring ways to ensure that data can move freely across borders in a manner that facilitates trade but also protects individual privacy and the rights of the consumer.
While Australia and Singapore already share some of the most ambitious digital trade arrangements under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Australia-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, we consider there is scope to do more to reduce barriers to digital trade and build an environment in which Australian businesses are able to participate and benefit from the digitalisation of the economy.
We want to hear from you
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) welcomes submissions from interested individuals and groups about cooperation with Singapore on digital trade. Stakeholder submissions will inform our way forward as we scope this initiative and will allow us to also maintain engagement with you throughout the process.